“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” Luke 9.1-6
What Jesus did for the disciples, he did for himself.
What I mean is this —Jesus equipped the disciples only in the manner in which he himself was equipped. He had power and authority to not only drive out demons but to cure diseases. He proclaimed God’s kingdom. He healed the sick. And, he carried next to nothing with him in terms of food, clothing or supplies because he relied upon the Lord to meet all of his needs.
Jesus empowered the disciples to do only what he did. So if I we find ourselves doing something other than what he did, are we his true disciples? There is the argument that perhaps this was only for first century disciples, or perhaps, that this is not an inclusive list of ministry. Both might have a point but it’s also safe to say that what Jesus modeled for these disciples, he modeled for all of us. Maybe we should pick up his ministry again of driving out demons, curing disease, proclaiming the kingdom and healing the sick rather than building more church buildings, worrying so much about small groups or having bible studies that only strengthen the believer. (There is a place for these, but should they come first?)
I grew up in a church that sometimes proclaimed the kingdom yet not in a way I heard it for myself. I came to Christ under a parachurch organization and not under the one in which I grew up. I heard bits of the gospel but the proclamation had been tampered with by early unorthodox teachings and liberal leanings. And at no time did I ever hear about someone casting out demons, healing the sick or curing diseases. We gave to the poor, we put on amazing music programs that brought God glory and we built community that enriched the believers. These initiatives seem like only half of the gospel and not exactly what Jesus accomplished in Luke 9. Either we are way off or he was, or what he did then is not applicable today. (Are people not demon possessed? Are people not sick? Does the Kingdom not need to be proclaimed?)
Now I haven’t done a large amount of study on this but I think I’m on to something. If we are to walk as Jesus walked, and if his Spirit is as alive today as it was back then, shouldn’t the mission be the same? Shouldn’t we be doing ministry more like Jesus?
So much can be unpacked in this passage but what I reflect on verses 5-6 — if someone did not welcome the ministry of the disciples and Jesus, they were to “leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them” and continue in “proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.”
I want to challenge the church not only to proclaim the good news but to offer healing, cast out demons, and cure disease by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s certainly non-conventional! But should it be so? Let’s return to doing what mattered most to Jesus. Helping people see and experience God’s kingdom by freeing them from the chains that bind them. By his grace and for his glory.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me. For your kindness, your example and your grace. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with your passion and your mission that the world might know! Your are a good God and we proclaim your kingdom. We pray for healing, we exercise demons and we break strongholds in Jesus names so people might be set free by your power and love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen